Back in 2018, when the government was conducting a post-implementation review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO), a Ministry of Justice official asked practitioners to ‘be a bit more open’ with hard data to inform the review. When evidence was requested from the sector, the official said, the information was ‘largely anecdotal’.

Since then, whenever I read a report or submission on legal aid, my eyes immediately search for numbers – any numbers that would help MoJ ministers say to their Treasury colleagues: ‘Look, this is really bad. You need to give us more cash.’

Some ‘hard data’ that I came across recently in relation to civil legal aid, which the government is reviewing:

28 years: since the MoJ last increased legal aid fees for civil cases. Fees have not been adjusted for inflation, and they were cut by 10% in 2011-12.

£64m: how much it cost 72 councils in 2021/22 to provide accommodation and financial support to 3,423 households with no recourse to public funds.

£45: an hour that mental health providers are paid for a tribunal file – providers with overheads such as office leases, insurance, staff costs, IT, training and the costs associated with holding a legal aid contract.

£35: an hour that mental health providers are paid for non-tribunal work.

13: law firms supporting nearly 8,000 appeals to the Special Educational Needs and Disability tribunal every year.

£48.24: an hour, the most an education legal aid provider based outside of London can recover from a complex tribunal appeal.

76: legal help welfare benefit matter starts in 2022/23 (pretty sure we’re still in a cost-of-living crisis).

64%: the proportion of the population living within 10km of a housing legal aid provider for issues such as eviction (see latest government data for the alarming rise in mortgage and landlord possession claims).

57%: of the population living within 10km of an 'active' office taking on housing legal aid work (a firm is 'active' if it has more than 30 new matter starts and/or certification applications in the year).

These are just some of the figures that appear in a National Audit Office report on the government's management of legal aid and the Law Society’s submission to the government’s civil legal aid review.

The Ministry of Justice has plenty of hard data. Surely enough data to ask the Treasury for the £11.3m that the Law Society suggests as a short-term measure to put the fragile civil legal aid sector back on a sustainable footing.